H.E. Li Manchang, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China: Mutual benefit as foundation for cooperation

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The Chinese people, especially Chinese businessmen, know and understand Serbia and the Serbian market. Hence, the foundation for development of concrete cooperation between our two countries is very solid and it relies upon recognizing the advantages of complementarity and mutual benefit

In the last few years, the cooperation between China and Serbia has signficantly deepen and has a potential to develop even further – says H.E. Mr. Li Manchang, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Serbia. “The support that we get from the Serbian government and the city of Belgrade for our projects creates even more room for better connection between our two countries to our mutual benefit”, the Ambassador adds.

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During the official visit of President Xi Jinping to Serbia, the two sides signed treaties covering construction, infrastructure, telecommunications, economy, defense, media and other. Which of these treaties are important for further development of the cooperation between China and Serbia?

— President Xi Jinping had a historically important official visit to Serbia in June. The two countries had forged a comprehensive strategic partnership which raised the bilateral realtions to new heights. Serbia is the first country in Central-Eastern Europe to create a comprehensive strategic partnership with China. Not only did this visit deepen the traditionally good friendship between China and Serbia and brought our two nations even closer, but it has also created a flourishing new situation in the concerete cooperation between China and Serbia. During the President’s visit, the two sides signed over 20 treaties. In the last few years, our versatile bilateral relations have reached a full recognition, but have also presented a clear aspect of diverse development of our future cooperation which has further expanded the areas and the volume of cooperation, in addition to laying a solid foundation for it. We are now expediting the implementation of several previously agreed cooperation projects in transportation, energy and infrastructure, and are strongly supporting new accomplishments of the cooperation between our two countries within the framework of the „One belt, one road“ and the „16+1 cooperation“ initiatives. Furthermore, we have been developing the cooperation in many other areas like agriculture and tourism. I believe that the Chinese-Serbian cooperation has a growth tendency on several levels and platforms which would bring many benefits to our respective nations.

China is one of the most important creditors of large-scale infrastructure projects in Serbia. What is the main rationale behind China’s assistance to Serbia?

— The traditionally good, friendly relations and mutual understanding are the basis of our cooperation. The traditional friendship between China and Serbia is long lasting. The mutual liking between our two nations has been nurtured for a long time. In the 1970s and 1980s, at the onset of the reform policy and China’s opening to the world, we gained a huge and valuable experience by learning from our Serbian friends. In the last few years, the relations between China and Serbia have been continously developing. The visits of the highest state officials and ordinary citizens are becoming more frequent. The Chinese people, especially Chinese businessmen, know and understand Serbia and the Serbian market. Hence, the foundation for development of concrete cooperation between our two countries is very solid. The advantages of complementarity and mutual benefits are the driving force behind our cooperation. We should continue nurturing this cooperation based on mutual understanding and should strive to find another strong driving force behind it. Serbia is committed to its economic development and raising the living standard of its citizens. The implementation of the projects that would bring us closer together, as well as those pertaining to the living standard of the people like the construction of infrastructure, has begun. China has been developing for over thirty years now and the wealth of experience gained by our enterpreneurs, large capital and advanced technology are further fostering the desire to solidify international cooperation particularly the one with Europe and, specifically, Central and Eastern Europe. Both sides have the advantage of complementarity regarding largescale infrastructure projects from which they can reap mutual benefits. The Chinese government will continue encouraging more renowned Chinese companies to invest in Srbia. We would like to see them bring more benefits to your people like the Chinese bridge.

How beneficial are Chinese investments in regional countries to the EU accession process of these countries?

— Chinese companies are very interested in investing in Serbia, in projects in agriculture, tourism, processing industry and so on. The relevant ministries and companies from both sides have started networking and communicating. If you are asking what kind of benefit will Chinese investments bring to Serbia, I would like to mention the Smederevo Ironworks, a project implemented by Hesteel Serbia Iron & Steel. Following Hesteel’s acquisition of the Smederevo Ironworks, the plant has slowly started to recover. A lot of effort was invested in improving the management in the company, implementing technological changes and finding better purchasing and distribution routes. The problem with employment of 5,000 workers has been resolved, while the living standard in 5,000 families has improved. The further improvement of working conditions in the Ironworks will play a major part in promoting the local economic and social development. Serbia is committed to its Euro-integration process. We support Serbian people in independently choosing their development road. China wishes Serbia, as its sincere friend and partner, to continue accomplishing successes in national development.

Are you satisfied with the cooperation with Belgrade authorities?

— Chinese companies are currently cooperating with Belgrade authorities on numerous projects like the construction of a waste water processing facility in Belgrade, an industrial park and several others. A good geographical location of Belgrade, the stable system of laws and regulation, the preferential investment policy and the quality workforce have contributed a lot to our cooperation. The open and flexible approach of Belgrade authorities towards sustaining this cooperation and their efficient work are also important factors which have contributed to the success of our cooperation. Chinese companies are currently participating in the implementation of projects in transportation, energy, and infrastructure and are hoping for the promotion of cooperation in the areas like agriculture, commerce, tourism, financial and other. A successful promotion of cooperation is not possible without the support from the Serbian government and city of Belgrade. The Chinese side would like to use this opportunity to express its sincere gratitude hoping that, in the future, the two sides would cooperate even more.

What can be done to further improve the investment cooperation between China and Serbia?

— We need to fully utilize the advantages that come with a high level of political trust between our two countries, and transform good political relations into concrete results of practical cooperation. The comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Serbia should be used as the foundation and the backbone for the “One belt, one road” initiative and “16+1” cooperation platform, as well as for Serbia tying in its own policies with the Chinese. This top level exchange plays the main role in schematic planning of the concrete bilateral cooperation and devising its direction. We need to fully utilize the available potential and initiate cooperation in new segments. The two countries currently have a fruitful cooperation in the field of energy, transportation and infrastructure construction. In the next stage, we are going to continue utilizing the potential of our cooperation while focusing on individual developmental advantages, planning and initiating cooperation in new areas. Serbia is located in the heart of the Balkans, has a good geographical location, quality workforce and has concluded free trade agreements with several countries. This creates favourable conditions for the development of our international cooperation based on production capacities. Currently, the Chinese companies are actively considering investing in construction of an industrial park in Serbia. I believe that once this project is launched, more Chinese companies will come to Serbia.

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